5 Things You Should Know About the Clery Act Annual Security Report

5 Things You Should Know About the Clery Act Annual Security Report

School shootings, hazing deaths, and sexual assault have led people to question safety on college campuses. Fortunately, colleges and universities across the country just released critical information about steps they take throughout the year to prevent and respond to crime on their campuses.

In 1990 the Jeanne Clery Act was signed into law and the intent was clear: colleges and universities should make information about reported crimes and policies readily available to their community. The themes of the law are transparency and accountability. The Clery family championed the law in honor of their daughter, Jeanne, who was raped and murdered by another student during her freshman year of college in 1986.

This is why every October 1st colleges and universities throughout the country notify students and employees of the release of their Annual Security Report (ASR). This document tells the story of how campuses commit to keeping their students and community members safer.

We’ve summarized what to look for in the ASR. This information provides education if you are not familiar with how to read an ASR. If you work on a campus and are responsible for distributing the ASR, consider using the facts below to communicate its purpose to your campus community:

1.) Numbers

The ASR includes reported crime statistics. These numbers reflect reports of sexual assaults, hate crimes, alcohol violations, motor vehicle thefts, and dating violence, among other crimes. Some people assume that campuses reporting lower numbers of crimes like sexual assault and dating violence are safer. However, many times the opposite is true. Sexual assault and dating violence are underreported both on and off campus. As a result, higher numbers may indicate that a campus is talking about these crimes regularly and openly communicating how students can report these crimes. If you build an effective reporting system rooted in trust and transparency, you will draw people to report because they feel better supported. Consider digging deeper after looking at the numbers to get a sense of educational programs and options available to students and employees – that will help you understand how accessible these reporting options are on the campus.

2.) Warnings to the Campus Community

The Clery Act requires protocols to notify the campus community in the event of an emergency or threat to campus. The ASR describes how the campus communicates about potential danger to students and employees (through two types of alerts called timely warnings and emergency notification). It is important to understand the process for notifying your campus community and what formats these take (text message, email, social media) so that you are sure to receive this important information.

3.) Know Your Rights

The ASR details rights and options for people reporting crimes to the institution (including campus law enforcement and/or public safety). The report includes both on- and off- campus resources, so this valuable information may be useful for students, employees, and/or parents. There is also specific information on anonymous or confidential reporting options.

4.) Education

Prevention education and awareness programs should be detailed in the ASR. Campuses provide information for general crime prevention; fire safety; sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking prevention; and drug and alcohol abuse education and resources. These sections are a great way to know how the campuses approaches prevention work and how students and employees can access this education.

5.) Help is Available

The ASR provides information on building safety, emergency drills, and how to report a crime. These key policies publicize campus practices and ensure that students are treated with respect throughout a process.

After many decades of progress, Clery Center, working in collaboration with families, campuses, and lawmakers, continues to advocate for a comprehensive strategy to prevent and respond to campus crime. We urge students, parents, and campus staff to use this information. Look at how your campus (or prospective campus) talks about safety, prevention, and awareness. Pay attention to processes followed when a student reports a crime and the programs that build a safer community. 

We all play a role in campus safety. What steps will you take in working together for safer campuses?

Looking for more information? Check out the resource on Understanding Crime Statistics.


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